Part one. From smenovekhov distortions to Stalin’s persecution


Ararat M. Hakobyan

Keywords – smenovekhovstvo, N. Ustrialov, NEP, H. Kajaznuni, Armenian Question, reconstruction, national inclination, ARF Dashnaktsutyun, Kh. Mughdusi, A. Ghazaryan, pro-Soviet position, backstroke.

Hovhannes Kajaznuni’s name in Armenian political history is sometimes identified not with his position of the first Prime Minister of the First Republic of Armenia, but with the brochure “ARF has nothing to do”, published in Bucharest in 1923, which, together with the added word “else” of the Bolshevik propaganda machine has been used as a kind of anti-Dashnak “manifesto” for 70 years.

At critical moments of history, even the most confident politicians may be in despair, it’s quite common in world history and in the history of Armenia as well. This is evidenced by the desire of reconciliation and acceptance of the Soviet regime in the 1920s. Hovhannes Kajaznuni and some other figures fell in this trap, expressing desire to get away from the ARF Dashnaktsutyun, to return home and take an active part in its reconstruction. It was an expression of the ideology of reconciliation with Bolshevism typical for Smenovekhovtsy – Russian émigré circles in the Armenian reality.

Hovh. Kajaznuni thought that in the new conditions the ARF Dashnaktsutyun should leave the political arena and the main role should be given to the Armenian Communist Party, so that the country was restored with the help of the Soviet state and the Armenian issue was resolved. But A. Ghazaryan, who saw the salvation of the Armenian people only by Russia, supports the view that ARF Dashnaktsutyun has much to do to rebuild the country, solving the issue of refugees and other issues. The book by Kajaznuni was an attempt to review the vibrant and fruitful activity of ARF Dashnaktsutyun in 1914-1923, followed by his controversial assessments and conclusions. Most of Kajaznuni’s judgments about historical events were based on assumptions. In fact, to return home and rejoin his family he needed a “political pass”, and the Bolsheviks that were preparing the “self-destruction” of ARF Dashnaktsutyun, needed this book entitled “ARF Dashnaktsutyun has nothing to do”.

k entitled “ARF Dashnaktsutyun has nothing to do”. However, since his arrival in Armenia the public security organs closely followed Kajaznuni, even his daily personal life. Dark clouds gradually deepened overhead Kajaznuni, especially in the 1930s.

On July 28, 1937 People’s Commissar of Internal Affairs Kh. Mughdusi signed a warrant for the search of Kajaznuni apartment and his arrest. On December 5, 1937 the NKVD troika ASSR signed the death sentence against Kajaznuni, the former prime minister and an active member of the ARF Dashnaktsutyun, with the confiscation of personal property. But on the advice of the prison doctor, who diagnosed tuberculosis, the execution of the sentence was postponed. A short time later, on January 15, 1938 Hovh. Kajaznuni, the first Prime Minister of the First Republic of Armenia died in the prison hospital at the age of 70 years.

As a result of the application of well-known methods of Soviet intelligence, many political opponents were affected by smenovekhovstvo’s ideology and gave speeches and wrote books in favor of reconciliation with the Bolsheviks, among them Snar Snaryan (Narinyan), Sahak Chitchyan, Arshak Ghazaryan, Gerasim Atajanian Harutyun Budaghyan, Sahak Torosian and others, most of which subsequently suffered the tragic fate of Hovh. Kajaznuni.

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